Coming through loud and clear
Struggling Kim airs his concerns
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Following yet another alarming outing yesterday -- two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman in the ninth inning -- Byung Hyun Kim spoke.
He'd yet to talk to the media as a whole since camp opened. When he did, he talked through Chang Lee, a Sox trainer, and didn't duck any questions, even though most were far less kind than the queries faced on a daily basis by his teammates.
He was asked if he feels connected to the team.
"Coming from Korea, growing up in a different culture, playing baseball here in the United States, that's why I came," Kim said. "Not being able to speak, not being able to communicate with other players, that's definitely a hindrance to having better communication, and better relationships with other players.
"When I was pitching well, everyone is happy, everything is good. When I'm not pitching good, I don't have the relationship that other players do, who are able to speak, able to joke around. That's like a wall that I have to overcome.
"Right now, it's hard to even approach the other players because my performance was so bad last year. And even this year, it is improving but [I'm] still having a hard time trying to get better. That's why maybe I had a hard time reaching out to other players, because I had to get my act right first and then reach out to the other players.
"I used to watch a lot of TV. I tried to pick up words and communicate with other players. But because of my performance, I want to focus on myself."
Kim said he feels "about 70 percent right now" but doesn't know when he'll be at 100 percent. He said rhythm and balance give him velocity, and he's lacked both since the offseason between 2003 and 2004. Kim faulted a "new technology" he used that offseason for strength and conditioning in Japan and cited a miscommunication with his trainer.
"After that, my velocity was going down," he said. "I lost rhythm on my pitches. That is the key of losing my velocity. I feel I'm starting to click and it will come back. I'm a very small pitcher. I need everything clicking at the right time."
Kim topped out at 87 miles per hour yesterday, which is about the hardest he's thrown in camp. He managed the save in an 8-7 win vs. the Pirates, but not before allowing a run and escaping a bases-loaded jam.
Kim acknowledged that he's aware of trade rumors but said he doesn't need to leave Boston to excel.
"I haven't thought about it," said Kim, who is in the second year of a two-year deal that paid him $4 million last season and $6 million this year. "The No. 1 thing is if I go to another team, my pitching won't be affected.
"If it happens, it happens. I know the manager, general manager, and teammates still trust me to help out the team. [General manager] Theo [Epstein] trusted me and believed in me that I'd do well."
Though Kim pitched in Triple A last season, he now has the right to refuse such an assignment. Asked if he'd accept an assignment to Pawtucket, Kim said, "That's something I need to discuss with Theo and [manager Terry] Francona and my agents."
Asked if he feels the need to apologize to the fans, Kim said, "The No. 1 thing is trying to find myself. The fans, whether I pitch well or bad, will react. Eventually fans will appreciate my performance.
"I regret last year and I want to be able to help out the team. This year I'm coming in with no pride, just from scratch, as a player trying to help out the team."
Roster comes into focus
The Sox made six cuts, reassigning righthanders Jack Cressend and Jeremi Gonzalez, outfielders George Lombard and Billy McMillon, first baseman Roberto Petagine, and catcher Shawn Wooten to minor league camp. That leaves the Sox with 29 players in camp, though three -- Adam Stern, Curt Schilling, and Wade Miller -- will begin the season on the disabled list. That means David McCarty should make the club as the 14th position player, and the 11th spot on the pitching staff will come down to Anastacio Martinez and Kim. It's possible the club could keep 12 pitchers. That said, McCarty is scheduled to travel to Arizona for the final two spring training games, suggesting he will be on the team. Francona said recently that no one on the bubble would make that trip . . . The Sox will use a combination of regulars and minor leaguers in Arizona. Those making the trek to Phoenix: Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, John Halama, Doug Mirabelli, Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, Ramon Vazquez, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon, Jay Payton, and McCarty.
Schilling on deck
The Sox are almost positive that they'll move their Triple A game tomorrow against Indianapolis to City of Palms Park so Schilling can pitch a minor league game in a major league atmosphere. The team will not charge admission, ensuring that Schilling's DL time can be backdated to Saturday. It will be interesting to see how many fans show up. "Schilling," Francona said, "he might be flying people in." Schilling is expected to come off the DL April 10 . . . Wakefield went six innings yesterday, allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks. Boston led, 7-1, before Foulke (1 IP, 2 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR) and Matt Mantei (1 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 K, 1 HBP) allowed the Pirates as close as 7-6. Foulke allowed his second home run in as many appearances, this one to ex-Sox Freddy Sanchez . . . Unique scene in the ninth inning. Pittsburgh's Chris Wilson walked, and Bobby Hill followed with a grounder to second base. Sox second baseman Vazquez attempted to tag Wilson, who ran outside the baseline. Vazquez appeared to drop the ball about the same time. Second base umpire Marvin Hudson ruled Wilson out. Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon came out to argue, then retreated to the dugout. He must have kept yelling because Hudson lost his composure. The ump shouted "Rules don't change," then opened and closed his hands, imitating someone who yaps a lot. That got McClendon up and out for another argument . . . Payton, hit by a pitch on the hand Thursday, will not return until tomorrow at the earliest.